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The ultimate girl power which turned a £10,000 dream into a £1M reality

06/03/2020
Wakefield Hospice is celebrating International Women’s day with a tribute to the brainchild of a group of eight nursing sisters approaching retirement who decided their area needed a hospice. 
 
The eight who had all been friends since they trained together at Clayton Hospital, Wakefield, decided to raise the money to build the hospice.
 
A public meeting was arranged on a miserable November evening in 1982 and the eight friends told those attending about their dream to build a hospice for the people of Wakefield. They estimated it would cost around £10,000 to build it.

 What they didn’t foresee, when they realised it would actually cost close to a £1m, was a community coming together from all backgrounds and walks of life to raise the funds needed to build a new hospice in Wakefield. They all worked tirelessly using a variety of creative and inspirational fundraising ideas until the target was reached.
 
The land was gifted by the former Regional Health Authority, and a whole host of supporters provided their expertise and knowledge. The plans for the hospice were drawn by York architect Peter Marshall and building work started in the late 80s.
 
The actual cost to build the hospice was £920,000 with an additional £60,000 to furnish it. In addition, the annual running costs, at that time, were £450,000.
 
But it was all worth it, as the completed hospice was fantastic. Indeed, it what was described by Martyn Lewis, the newscaster and author of ‘Tears and Smiles’ a book about hospices, as “the cream of hospices”.
 
Wakefield Hospice finally opened on 2 April 1990 when it accepted its first patients. 

Now with eight single en-suite bedrooms and two four bed bays the hospice continues to provide invaluable care for patients and their families, as well offering day therapy and bereavement support for many more.

With a team including doctors, nurses, a social worker, physiotherapists and complementary therapists, the annual running costs are now over £4m, with the hospice relying on the continued support of the local community and businesses to raise the funds required to keep it going.
 
By the time the hospice opened, four of the eight nurses were still involved and continued to support the hospice actively in the early years. Known affectionately as the ‘fab four’ their work is mirrored by another ‘fab four’; the women at the helm of the hospice today, who carry the same values of being professional, caring and aspirational.
 
They include Chief Executive Officer, Tina Turner who joined in 2016, Alison Harwood, Director of Clinical Services who joined in 2015, Dr Anne-Marie Seymour, Medical Director who joined in 1996 and Director of Income Generation, Helen Knowles who has been with the hospice since she joined as a volunteer with the Lupset Fundraising Group over thirty years ago. 
 
Founding member Phyllis Chapman said: “I thank you all, past and present, for joining in on this incredibly amazing journey in providing hospice care for those in our community in Wakefield.”
 

Indeed, what the hospice means to the Wakefield community was highlighted recently in a hospice hug to celebrate Valentine’s Day which saw over 220 local people gathered at Wakefield Hospice on Saturday 8th February, sponsored by Leeds based Hug Boilers.

The hug, which was part of the hospice's 30th anniversary celebrations, included staff, volunteers, family and friends of those that have received care and support from Wakefield Hospice, who showed their support and love for the facility by forming a giant circle facing the hospice and holding hands. They then all formed a giant number 30 to mark the milestone anniversary.
 
A tribute to the founding members 
 
For the 30th anniversary of Wakefield Hospice, it was perfect timing to pay tribute to the eight nurses by unveiling new branding.

The new logo, which depicts a tree with eight leaves, refers to the eight nursing sisters who ‘planted the seed’ of building a hospice in Wakefield and who helped it ‘grow’ into an outstanding facility for local people.

Speaking about the 30th anniversary and the eight nurses, CEO of Wakefield Hospice, Tina Turner, said, “On behalf of everyone in the Wakefield community, including those who have experienced first-hand the wonderful care and support we provide, we are honoured to pay tribute to the eight great friends who were inspired to build a first class hospice, here in Wakefield.”
 
Tina continued: “Their energy and enthusiasm in encouraging so many to take on the hospice vision, and to make it a reality, is truly inspirational. This remarkable achievement will never be forgotten, and the new logo is a fitting tribute to their determination, and a true reflection of a hospice which makes us all proud.”

To help with the fundraising efforts, in this landmark year, the hospice team has created an exciting programme of events for the next 12 months.
 
For further information about fundraising events or becoming a volunteer visit https://www.wakefieldhospice.org/work-with-us/volunteer